The disease was discovered subsequent to a purchase-related veterinary test requested by the horse’s new owner; no clinical signs were evident prior to the test.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) officials continue to investigate and have enacted movement controls on the affected horse and potentially exposed animals on the premises. The quarantine will remain in effect until all disease response protocols have been completed, including follow-up testing, contact tracing, and euthanasia of positive animals.
Equine infectious anemia is a viral disease that attacks horses’ immune systems. The virus is transmitted through the exchange of body fluids from an infected to an uninfected animal, often by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies. It can also be transmitted through the use of blood-contaminated instruments or needles.
A Coggins test screens horses’ blood for antibodies that are indicative of the presence of the EIA virus. Most U.S. states require horses to have proof of a negative Coggins test to travel across state lines.
Once an animal is infected with EIA, it is infected for life and can be a reservoir for the spread of disease. Not all horses show signs of disease, but those that do can exhibit:
- Progressive condition loss;
- Muscle weakness;
- Poor stamina;
- Depression; and
EIA has no vaccine and no cure. A horse diagnosed with the disease dies, is euthanized, or must be placed under extremely strict quarantine conditions (at least 200 yards away from unaffected equids) for the rest of his life.